MYTHBUSTERS

Disputing the most ardently defended misinformation from WhatsApp, WeChat, and the depths of the internet.

Covid-19 Screening

Although this idea is common, the assertion that testing increases cases is  FALSE. Rather, testing is allowing us to detect more cases which helps slow the spread of COVID-19. A better metric to analyze is the positivity rate - if it stays constant, then the case rate is also constant, regardless of the number of tests administered. More on this in our blog post.

True or False: 

COVID-19 cases are increasing because testing capacity is increasing.

Image by Victor Garcia

FALSE - The 10 second coronavirus test cannot be used to diagnose COVID-19.  Even though COVID-19 is a respiratory infection, a large percentage of people who are actually sick are asymptomatic. Because you can be sick without feeling sick, this test doesn't work.

True or False:

If you can hold your breath for at least 10 seconds, you don’t have COVID-19.

Image by Kelly Sikkema

The fact that COVID-19 is worse than the flu is TRUE. The coronavirus is much more transmissible, and the mortality rate of COVID-19 is 4x to 8x greater than that of the flu. Additionally, we neither have a vaccine nor herd immunity for the coronavirus, making it more dangerous than the flu.

True or False: 

COVID-19 is worse than the flu.

Face Mask

FALSE - Masks with filter ports actually force the air you breathe out further and more forcefully than normal cloth or surgical masks. Additionally, N95s with filters filter the air coming in, but let unfiltered air out, as both masks were designed for people working in hazardous areas.

True or False: 

Masks with valves or filter ports are the best masks to control community transmission.

Image by Jacek Dylag

False - Herd immunity is only achieved when a very large proportion of the population is infected with the disease, with estimates ranging from 70-90% of the population worldwide. This would have led to tens of millions of deaths and overwhelmed hospitals.

True or False: 

Lockdowns were unnecessary because we could have waited for herd immunity.

Cleaning Supplies

The fact that cleaners require at least 1 minute to disinfect is TRUE. Most cleaning products should actually stay wet on a surface for at least one minute, and potentially even up to ten before they are wiped down.

True or False: 

Cleaning products need at least 1 minute to disinfect.

The claim that cut onions can absorb the coronavirus is FALSE, as there is no scientific evidence that onions can remove toxins from the air. Rather, this is a myth that has been propagated over centuries, and is definitively false.

True or False: 

Placing cut onions around the house can absorb the coronavirus, protecting people from infection.

The fact that someone who has completed quarantine or has been released from isolation does not pose a risk of infection to other people is TRUE.

True or False: Someone who has completed quarantine or has been released from isolation does not pose a risk of infection to other people.

The claim that lemon juice kills the coronavirus is FALSE, as there is no scientific evidence to support this assertion. Rather, this may be detrimental to health, as an excess may make it difficult to regulate bodily pH.

True or False: 

Drinking lemon juice kills the coronavirus because lemons have a lower pH than the virus.

The claim that the coronavirus originated from a lab and was intentionally propagated by people is FALSE, as most similar diseases are zoonotic and occur due to animal to human transmission.

True or False: 

The novel coronavirus was deliberately created, released, or stolen by the Chinese people or government.

The fact that hand washing and social distancing can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus is TRUE, as hand washing for 20 seconds with soap and water destroys the viral coating, and social distancing limits droplet transmission.

True or False: 

Washing your hands and practicing social distancing are effective preventative measures for COVID-19.

The claim that boiled eggs kill the coronavirus is FALSE, as there is no scientific evidence to support this. Rather, this is a rumor that began on WeChat, suggesting that a baby speaking right out of the womb promoted this "treatment". 

True or False: 

Eating a hard-boiled egg before going to bed at night kills the coronavirus.

The fact that the risk for most people is relatively low is TRUE, as older adults and people who have serious underlying medical conditions are more susceptible. However - this is just a trend, and there have been thousands of exceptions, so it is important to remain careful.

True or False: 

For most people, the immediate risk of becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus is thought to be low.

The claim that Hydroxychloroquine is very effective against COVID-19 is FALSE. Although a few small case studies have shown its benefits, many have shown that there is no change or even a negative effect. 

True or False:

Hydroxychloroquine has been found to be a very effective treatment against COVID-19.

The claim that 5G Towers are linked to COVID-19 is FALSE, as there is no scientific evidence to support this assertion. Although it has been spread by many celebrities, the radio frequency given off by phones cannot greatly damage DNA.

True or False: 

5G Towers are linked to coronavirus, possibly helping it spread across long distances.